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The Music MA is a flexible programme designed to cater to those with a wide range of interests and specialisms. It is conceived as a 'next step' after the undergraduate degree, either as a stepping stone to research, as a qualification for teaching in the FE sector or simply to satisfy a thirst for development. There are 10 specialist pathways that you can choose from across musicology, composition and performance; each includes a range of core and optional taught modules and you will complete the course with a dissertation, recital or composition portfolio.
Music MA: Electroacoustic composition/sonic art pathway
The Electroacoustic Composition/Sonic Art pathway invites you to help map out the next steps in Birmingham’s thirty-year history as a world leader in the area of electroacoustic music composition and presentation. A solid grounding in the field, its aesthetics and traditions are augmented by instruction in the latest techniques and technology. You will also have the opportunity to work with BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre), our acclaimed 100-channel sound diffusion system.
Music MA: Global Popular Musics pathway
This programme builds on one of the department’s newest areas for research and teaching. Uniquely, it focuses on popular music in global, diasporic, transnational, and linguistically diverse forms, reflecting emerging trends in popular music scholarship. It moves beyond the traditional focus on album recordings and stage performances to include significant forms of ‘ubiquitous music’, including music in film/TV/advertising/video games. For those wishing to study Anglophone popular music, this approach will enhance the cultural relevance of your work.
Music MA: Instrumental/Vocal Composition pathway
This programme combines a solid grounding in the creative history and technique of Western art music with the latest twenty-first-century compositional techniques. Instruction in practical aspects - for example, advanced orchestration, post-serial and post-spectral techniques, computer-assisted composition - is combined with the development of theoretical knowledge and critical faculties.
Music MA: Mixed Composition pathway
As a composer today, all of these resources are available to you, and the Mixed Composition pathway aims to foster your skills as you navigate this exciting new world. By studying this pathway you can create works which combine electroacoustics and computer technology with more traditional instrumental and vocal composition or explore each of those elements separately. Works for interactive systems, multimedia, and sound installations are also welcome.
Music MA: Musicology pathway
The Musicology pathway aims to equip you with core historical and analytical skills as well as enabling you to operate in a field that is broadly interdisciplinary. The programme features a single core module, allowing you to tailor the content to areas of specific interest with your choice of optional modules. This programme is ideal for those who wish to extend their studies further and explore particular topics in-depth, and it can also be used as a route to PhD research.
Music MA: Open Pathway with Performance
Music as a discipline is more diverse than ever, and musicians and scholars in the 21st century must be prepared to navigate amongst numerous streams of practice and research. The MA Music Open Pathway offers you the opportunity to chart your own route within this exciting world. In consultation with the programme convenor, you will design a unique course of study, drawing upon our extensive offerings in Musicology, Composition, and Performance. Modules from outside the discipline (e.g. a language) may also be available if relevant to your individual pursuits.
Music MA: Open Pathway without Performance
Music as a discipline is more diverse than ever, and musicians and scholars in the twenty-first century must be prepared to navigate amongst numerous streams of practice and research. The MA Music Open Pathway offers you the opportunity to chart your own route within this exciting world. In consultation with the programme convenor, you will design a unique course of study, drawing upon our extensive offerings in Musicology, Composition, and Performance. Modules from outside the discipline (e.g. a language) may also be available if relevant to your individual pursuits.
Music MA: Performance pathway
Performance constitutes perhaps our fastest growing and most exciting venture, with ambitious plans growing out of the £16 million Bramall Music Building, with its acoustically peerless Elgar Concert Hall and Dome Rehearsal Room designed by Birmingham Symphony Hall acoustician Nick Edwards. Scholar-performer and early music conductor Andrew Kirkman joins forces with Simon Halsey, renowned chorus master of the CBSO and Berlin Radio Choir, and orchestral conductor Daniele Rosina, plus instrumental and vocal lessons arranged with the faculty of Birmingham Conservatoire. You also receive the opportunity to take advantage of the early performance opportunities afforded by the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR).
Music MA: Performance Practice pathway
The University’s Bramall Music Building offers state-of-the-art facilities for performance, including a custom-built music auditorium, the Elgar Concert Hall. Those wishing to study performance practice post-1800 will benefit from access to these facilities, as well as period-specific resources. For those wishing to study mid- and late-19th Century music, we have an 1851 original Erard piano which can be used for the performance of relevant repertoire; and those with an interest in 20th and 21st Century music will have the opportunity to work with the Department’s ‘Ensemble in Association’, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
Music MA: Choral Conducting pathway
Our unique MA programme in Choral Conducting is directed by Professor Simon Halsey CBE and is in association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and its internationally renowned choruses and conductors. It gives students the opportunities to observe, conduct and sing every week.
The University of Birmingham is home to one of the most vibrant and exciting Music departments in the world. We are an international leader in research and our programme embodies the latest cutting-edge developments in the practice and study of music.
We usually ask for a good Honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, in Music or a related subject with a substantial musical component. Degrees in other subjects will be considered where candidates have significant professional musical experience and relevant qualifications.
Your application should include a personal statement of approximately 5,000 characters. You should use your personal statement to explain why you are interested in studying this programme. In order to expedite processing, please clearly state the pathway to which you are applying within the first paragraph of your personal statement.
All prospective students must also provide audition materials. Students from the United Kingdom are expected to audition in person, where possible. If you are unable to arrange an audition in person or are located overseas, you should submit video evidence to support your application. Please submit two videos - one video in a rehearsal setting and one of a recent public performance. Videos should be submitted online via YouTube/YouKu (preferred option) or DropBox.
Please adhere to the following guidelines for both videos:
Each video should be 10 minutes in duration
The camera should be facing you as a conductor with your upper body and facial expressions visible
You should show contrasting repertoire from the Western Classical Tradition
Where the audition is not taking place in person, videos should be submitted at the time of making your application or uploaded within two weeks of submitting your application. If they are not provided within the stated timeframe your application may be declined.
Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.
IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:
TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - Minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component